Disapproving Of Daughter’s Boyfriend

Dear Sara,

We have an eighteen-year-old daughter who is a freshman in college. Her mother and I are professionals and have more than adequate income and a nice home. I think of my daughter as naive. She is dating a young man who I don’t feel is trustworthy. He’s not in college and apparently doesn’t plan to go and works at a fast food place. She has an allowance and most of the time pays for their dates. She has brought him to the house a few times and he doesn’t make eye contact very often. I don’t want her to date this guy but I don’t think she would follow my advice. Is there any way to stop this relationship?

Dear Mark,

When a woman loves a man, she sees only what she wants to see. If you told your daughter negative things about her young man she would not believe you and would be angry with you. You can’t give her your maturity or good sense so all you can do is wait and see what happens and be there for her if she needs you.

This young man may be intimidated by your home and money and is afraid of interacting with you. He may have a plan other than college to support himself. He apparently needs time to mature. Your instincts may be right but your daughter will have to figure that out for herself.

Adoption Concerns

Dear Sara,

I’ve been married two years and have just found out I can’t have a baby. I can’t believe that this has happened to me. All my sisters have kids and I feel like I’m not part of all that they have. My husband and I have talked it over and think we might want to adopt. It seems like the women and girls now want to keep their baby and raise it as single Moms so there aren’t so many babies to be adopted. Also it seems that many Moms willing to give up their baby have the option to choose the perfect parents for their child. This seems difficult and exhausting. We aren’t rich and don’t have a grand house so we would be way down on the list of prospective parents. Do you think we should give up or go through the process and get on the list?

Dear Andrea,

You can be part of your sisters’ family by offering to baby sit. I am sure they would be delighted to share their children with you in that way. Only you and your husband can decide how much you are willing to go through to have a baby to care for.

There are things that have to be considered such as income and housing but loving parents are important too. There are babies in other countries that need homes so you might look into that as well. Any way you look at this it won’t be an easy process. What it boils down to is, do you want a baby bad enough to go through all of the inspections and interviews and disappointments to have this baby in your life? It sounds as though you aren’t totally committed to the idea yet. Take your time and think things through.

Runaway 4 Year Old

Dear Sara,

I have a very adventurous four year old. I have learned to keep the front and back door locked so she can’t escape the house but when I take her anywhere she will manage to escape. If I let her out of the basket at the grocery store she will be as far away from me as she can get. It’s really risky for me to take her for a walk or to the park because as soon as my attention is elsewhere she takes off. This is like a game to her now. I have tried to explain how dangerous this is but I’m not getting through to her. What can I do to make her stop doing this?

Dear Beth,

It sounds like you have a daughter who like to get your attention by disappearing. You might try giving her some reward and punishment options. If she stays with you in the grocery store she can pick a treat as you check out. If she runs away she has to go to time out when she gets home. You could use the same type of thing when you go to the park. If she gets away with these things without consequences she will probably continue. You know what will work best for a consequence so let it be something that she won’t like at all. She’s playing games with you. Don’t let her get away with it.

Smart Child Bad Grades

Dear Sara,

My son is very bright but doesn’t do his homework so he gets really bad grades on his report card. He would rather play video games or watch TV. He has games and TV in his room and will say that he is doing homework when he is playing games. I think he will need good grades to get into college no matter how smart he is. What should I do about this?

Dear Darla,

Not only does your son need better grades to get into college, he needs to be able to learn to discipline himself and do the work that needs to be done rather than what he wants to do. He may be smart but won’t get any place in life if he’s not willing to do the work required to be successful.

I know that he will complain loudly but the TV and games need to be removed from his room until his grades improve. After that he can have his equipment back but only if he does his homework and his grades are where they need to be. As long as he is in your home, you are in charge and he has to follow your rules. It sounds like he probably won’t do homework unless you take charge and don’t let him get away with being lazy.

Child Wants Plastic Surgery

Dear Sara,

My seventeen year old daughter wants to have breast reduction surgery. She has extremely large breasts and said that she is really uncomfortable. She said it’s like have to carry around two bowling balls all of the time and boys don’t look at her face only her breasts. She can’t find clothes that fit and in general she doesn’t like the way she looks. I am worried about her going to surgery for cosmetic reasons. She says insurance will pay for it. Do you think it’s OK for her to have this kind of surgery?

Dear Sandy,

Apparently breast reduction has more benefits than just cosmetic ones. Women who have large breasts have neck and back pain and can have headaches and herniated discs. Your daughter probably doesn’t get much exercise because it’s uncomfortable for her.

More importantly teens need to fit in with their peers. If they are extremely different like your daughter seems to be they are often outsiders. It’s difficult for them to have a normal social life and they end up with bad feelings about themselves and often are depressed. It sounds like it would be in your daughter’s best interest for her to have the breast reduction surgery. Talk it over with her doctor and give it some serious consideration.

Regaining Independence

Dear Sara,

I’ve been married five years now. I have a son age four. I only went out with my husband about three months before I married him but he seemed really nice and was good to me. Things have changed. He is very controlling and he has sold my car saying he doesn’t want to pay the insurance on it any more.. I can even take my son to the doctor if he’s not there. Every weekend he gets drunk and has hit me a lot of times. My son is afraid of him too. What should I do?

Dear Consuela,

This is not good for you or your son. Growing up in an abusive household leaves a lot of emotional scars. You need to find a way to leave. You may have to start hiding a small amount of money each week and looking for a shelter for abused women. Be really careful because he could be dangerous if he thinks you are leaving. If you have family close by let them know what is going on. Don’t try to hide your problem because you think it’s your fault. It’s not.

Take care of yourself and put you and your son out of danger.

Good luck.

Mom Wants To Get In Shape

Dear Sara,

I am a stay at home Mom with two preschoolers. I feel like I am really out of shape. I kept about five pounds after each pregnancy and I wasn’t exactly skinny in the first place. Since I am home all day I tend to snack so it is hard for me to lose weight. The only exercise I get is chasing after the kids but I know that’s not enough to make me lose weight. I don’t think I can afford to go to the gym and pay a sitter to watch my two little ones. I feel like my husband is losing interest in me because of the way I look. Any suggestions?

Dear Cathy,

You won’t get very far without some kind of plan. If you have a friend in the same situation it would be good for you to have a buddy to encourage you and compete with.

It sounds like you need to cut back on your food intake. Have you tried counting calories? You should be able to lose weight and get proper nutrition on about 1200 calories a day. It’s not going to be easy but once you get started and lose weight you will feel better about yourself. You can go online or buy a book that tells you how many calories are in the food you eat. Have a notebook and write down what you eat and the calorie count so that you will stick with it.

You do need regular exercise to use up your calories. When the weather is good, walking with the kids is a good way to get rid of calories and the kids will have a good time too. There may be an exercise program on TV in your area or you can buy a CD with a program to follow. Get into a daily routine and try to stick with it.

It’s not going to be easy but it is within your power to change things.

Eating Concerns

Dear Sara,

My twelve year old daughter is extremely thin. She’s five feet six inches tall and is barely over 100 pounds. She seems tired a lot but other than that she is healthy. She is not interested in breakfast so she goes off in the morning with maybe a glass of orange juice. I don’t know what she eats at school for lunch but she usually eats pretty well at dinner time. What can I do to help her put on a little weight?

Dear Nora,
It’s probably better for your daughter to be underweight rather than overweight since as we get older our weight does tend to creep up. First of all, she probably needs a checkup with her pediatrician to make sure she’s not anemic or has some other problem like anorexia. Her tiredness could be to low blood pressure as well.

She might feel better if she ate some breakfast. She probably isn’t interested in typical breakfast fare but she might be willing to try a milkshake or a muffin. You really can’t make a child of any age eat when they don’t want to. It’s really better if you don’t make an issue of it and just offer a range of healthy food and hope that she will eat some of it.

Docile four-month-old Baby

Dear Sara,

I am worried about my four-month-old baby girl. She doesn’t seem interested in interacting and isn’t as active as my five-year-old was at that age. She smiles from time to time and occasionally makes some sounds but she mostly sleeps and eats. I took her for a checkup and her pediatrician said that she is just an easy going baby. He’s right, she mostly cries when she is hungry or wet. Do you think she has some kind of problem?

Dear Janice,

At four months your daughter should be learning to sit and transfer an object from hand to hand. She should be straining to get up when you pull on her hands and reaching for your face to explore your facial features. Your five year old may have been more active and doing things sooner but both can be in the normal range.

You could try clapping your hands behind her back to see if she startles to make sure she is able to hear you. Dangle some bright and shiny things in front of her to see if she reaches out to make sure that she can see. You need to know that these things are developing well. Try to interact and engage her as much as possible and enlist your five-year-old to talk to her and play with her. Babies often like other kids. Also be sure to take her for her regular visits to her pediatrician.

Questions About Punishment

Dear Sara,

I am so upset. My sixteen year old son and his two friends stole a car. He said it was a really cool sports car and the owner had left the keys inside. They decided that they would “borrow” the car, take it for a ride and no one would even notice because it was dark outside. Well the owner did notice and called the police. They were on the way back to return the car and the police pulled them over. We had to get a lawyer and go down to juvenile hall and get him released. He has to do community service and realizes that he made a big mistake. We won’t let him drive for the next six months which is really a punishment because he has to take the school bus to school and he hates that. Should I add more punishment or is this enough?

Dear Oma,

I can see how this would be very upsetting. Your son sounds like he is in general a responsible teen and the temptation of getting to ride in a “cool” car was more than he could resist. He wasn’t planning on keeping it or selling it. If he does his community service and loses his driving privilege for six months, that might be enough punishment as long as he doesn’t get into any more trouble. One mistake does not make a career criminal. Take a wait and see attitude. It sounds like things will work out all right.